Hollywood may still be the most known global film industry in the Western world, but its big name is an allusion and when compared to its siblings, it is the little brother that thinks he is the tallest.
Control of the global film flows is being wrestled from the Western control and towards the Asian film industries of India and China according to many scholars (Shaefar D, Karan K, 2010). In previous years, each ‘Wood catered to their segregated markets with little interaction. The forces of globalisation however, haven’t just changed the global flows of economics and technology. The dark horse of Nollywood is growing in size and importance as it continues to develop its unique way to provide for their audience.
Nollywood’s film industry, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and is now estimated to be worth N853.9 billion ($5 billion US) and about 1.2% of Nigeria’s GDP. (Siaka Momoh, 2014) as Momoh points out, in terms of revenue Hollywood still takes the cake, while Nollywood has become Africa’s most valuable film industry generating approximately $590 million annually. And in East Asia, the film industries of Hong Kong, China and Taiwan have collectively grossed hundreds of millions in the US as filmmakers ‘challenge Hollywood’s hegemony’ in Chinese audiences and beyond where their cultural influence reaches. (Curtin 2007)
The creation of ‘Chindia’, the high level cooperation between India and China as an economic challenge to the West has uncovered the importance of exploiting the ‘soft power’ of Bollywood to promote India’s economic and political interests abroad. (Shaefar D, Karan K 2010) Bollywood has extended beyond not only the Indian diaspora in the UK and US, but to Syria and Senegalse as they come to appreciate and be entertained by their films. While this interest in Hindi films has existed in Russia, the Middle East, UK, and Africa for years, there are signs that broader American interest in Bollywood and Indian culture is increasing. Perhaps the most potent example is James Cameron’s Avatar (Cameron, 2009) with its culmination of native-American themes and ancient Hindu religious concepts and is still the highest earning movie of all time earning $2.7 billion US.
(Image: Cameron, 2009 Avatar via schmoesknow.com)
The way of storytelling is significantly different between the 3 ‘Woods, where the Western culture prefers the linear, protagonist, chronological, intro-complication-conclusion storyline, Bollywood favours longer running times, less linear and built around the extravagant dance and musical numbers Western viewers are usually uninterested in. The Nigerian film making style is also rather different in unique in that it ‘values the entertainment of its clientele’ above all (Okome, 2007). Less attention is paid to the quality of filming, the technology, editing, a “shoestring budget”. all filmed and produced in less than a week on a budget less than $10,000. Its primary focus is on the storytelling, providing relatable material to their mass-audience and a wide selection, with over 30 new titles available every week.
Of recent, Indian films have undergone a transformation as they become more Westernised, encorporating the ‘three-act narrative, 120 minute running time, and avoidance of the song ans dance sequences’ (Shaefer, Karan 2010) and numerous popular culture references in order to increase it appeal to the Western World as its soft power grows. Nollywood has thus far more focused internally as it gains its footing in the global world. there still exists a huge gap in funding with its older brothers of Hollywood and Bollywood, and so it shall always be trailing after them and be classified and viewed as ‘semi-professional’ (Siaka Momoh, 2014) FDC Economic monthly according to Momoh believe that better quality movies would improve its perception of the industry and country’s image and attract foreign investors.
In short, Hollywood could soon be overpassed by Bollywood’s soft power influence, but both should be wary of Nollywood’s growing power and influence. Heavy the head that wears the crown of film. (Shakespeare W, Henry IV)
Schaefer, D & Karan, K 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, isa. 3, pp. 309-316
Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, audience and the Sites of Consumption’ pp 1-3